Winter's silent killer: Carbon monoxide poisoning

Doctor: Winter home heating brings dangers from poor ventilation

Posted 12/26/21

Colder overnight lows mean switching the thermostat to the heat setting, and emergency department doctors at Abrazo Health say it’s a good time to keep a few household safety tips in mind.

To Our Valued Readers –

Visitors to our website will be limited to five stories per month unless they opt to subscribe. The five stories do not include our exclusive content written by our journalists.

For $5.99, less than 20 cents a day, digital subscribers will receive unlimited access to YourValley.net, including exclusive content from our newsroom and access to our Daily Independent e-edition.

Our commitment to balanced, fair reporting and local coverage provides insight and perspective not found anywhere else.

Your financial commitment will help to preserve the kind of honest journalism produced by our reporters and editors. We trust you agree that independent journalism is an essential component of our democracy. Please click here to subscribe.

Sincerely,
Charlene Bisson, Publisher, Independent Newsmedia

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor

Winter's silent killer: Carbon monoxide poisoning

Doctor: Winter home heating brings dangers from poor ventilation

Posted

Colder overnight lows mean switching the thermostat to the heat setting, and emergency department doctors at Abrazo Health say it’s a good time to keep a few household safety tips in mind.

Carbon monoxide and space heaters are two culprits of home heating-related emergencies, according to Dr. Brian Hess, medical director of Emergency Services at Abrazo Health hospitals, including Abrazo Arrowhead Campus, 18701 N. 67th Ave., and Abrazo Peoria Emergency Center, 26900 N. Lake Pleasant Parkway.

Carbon monoxide poisoning sends as many as 20,000 people a year to the emergency room in the U.S., according to the CDC. In December, a family in Minnesota died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, according to news reports.

Carbon monoxide poisoning happens because the gas is invisible and odorless. As you breathe the fumes, the gas begins to build up in your body and can cause sudden illness or death. The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

• Headache
• Dizziness
• Weakness
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Chest pain
• Confusion

While everyone is at risk, some are more sensitive than others, such as infants and the elderly. People with heart disease, breathing problems or anemia are also more susceptible to carbon monoxide sickness.

Installing a carbon monoxide detector can warn you if dangerous levels of the gas are in your home, said Dr. Hess. Batteries should be changed twice a year, a good rule of thumb is replace at the same time as your smoke detector batteries.

Here are some ways you can stay safe and warm this winter:

Use proper ventilation

Gas ranges, ovens and kerosene heaters that are not been properly ventilated can leak carbon monoxide into your home. For example, appliances such as water heaters, should vent in an upward direction to the outside of the house. And if you smell an odor from a gas appliance, it may be leaking carbon monoxide.

Make safe heating decisions

Only buy gas equipment that has the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL). The following are tips to keep in mind for heating and cooking:

• Don’t use a gas range or oven to heat your house.
• Charcoal or hibachi grills, lanterns and portable camping stoves are not appropriate for inside use.
• Never use a generator inside your home, basement, garage or carport.
• Make sure your fireplace flue and chimney are properly connected, in good working order and are not blocked. Blockage can cause carbon monoxide to build up in your home.
• Perform a seasonal check on all gas appliances to make sure that they are in good working order.

Remember car and truck safety

Never idle your car or truck in the garage with the door closed, and if the garage is attached to the house, don’t idle even with the garage door open. It’s a good idea to have the exhaust system checked each year to make sure that carbon monoxide doesn’t leak into your car.

What to do if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide can be fatal without prompt treatment. If you suspect someone has carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911. You also should open the doors and windows to provide fresh air to the area. Turn off any heaters, gas ranges or other combustion appliances and leave the home.

Editor's note: This article was submitted by Abrazo Health Care. Brian Hess, MD, FACEP, is an emergency medicine physician and medical director of Emergency Services at Abrazo Health hospitals. For more information on the nearest Abrazo ER, visit abrazohealth.com.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here